Over 300 Oswego State students, faculty, staff and community members gathered at Hewitt Union Wednesday night to participate in the Take Back the Night march.
The Women’s Center put on the march which is meant to bring awareness to rape, sexual violence, abuse and other acts of violence.
"A march of this caliber is not to make just a political statement, but to show support for victims and survivors," Carla Levine, former president and current graduate adviser of the Women’s Center said.
The first Take Back the Night event in the U.S. was in Philadelphia, in October 1975, said Levine. It then traveled abroad in 1976 to Brussels, Belgium where it soon spread throughout Europe, Australia and India. The first Take Back the Night march at Oswego State was in 1998.
Meghan Tamilio, current president of the Women’s Center, said she participates in the event to support victims and survivors.
"Rallies and marches such as these really help to spread awareness to the community and make these issues that many times go under the radar more visible," Tamilio said.
Levine believes this march and the surrounding support of participants can help transform victims into survivors and unify the campus against sexual violence.
"It shows survivors they’re not alone," Levinesaid.
Hundreds of participants marched throughout the campus singing chants such as "We have the power, we have the might. The streets are ours, take back the night" and "We are women, we are men. Together we fight, we’ll find an end."
Oswego State president Deborah Stanley attended the march.
"It’s just really heartening to see so many young women and men coming out to this event," Stanley said. "I’m very proud of this group."
The number of people who came out to support the event and the energy they brought overcame Steven DiMarzo, president of the Student Association.
"I’m a bit overwhelmed," DiMarzo said.
A candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence followed the march. Afterwards participants listened and shared their own stories and experiences.
Jessica Ryan, graduate assistant for LifeStyles, wore a yellow band representing the Counseling Center. Those who wore the yellow bands were there not only to support those speaking out about their experiences, but also to lend support to those individuals who were not ready to speak of their experiences.
Charlene Irving, graduate student at Oswego State, attended the march for her friends and for those who have been victims of sexual violence.
"It [the march] is for speaking for people who have been sexually assaulted and for those who have lost their lives and cannot speak out for themselves," Irving said.
Last year Take Back the Night had a turnout of over 300 participants and was the largest the campus has seen, but also one of the largest in the nation, Levine said.